A History of Losing

Recently joined a Quiz Night at Bell and Dragon in Makati. We reviewed our 90’s Thinkaton, we watched hundreds of Jeopardy episodes, we neglected our daily responsibilities to study the geo-political landscape of Kyrgyzstan, only to be asked on quiz night: What is “Tuesday” in Swahili?

Bawi tayo sa round 2, baka mas alam natin yung categories,” I told Eleesabeth Balwani. The hostess then exclaimed: “For Round 2 we’re going to play… Bring Me! First, Bring Me a condom! Yung wrapped ha! Ahahaha!” It was downhill from there, and we never got to recover. By the third round we waved our white flag, laid down our arms, threw in the towel–we also reviewed our idioms–and was the first group to walk out in abject shame. “May mga clinic pa tayo bukas nang maaga,” we tried to convince each other.

Back in high school I was chosen to join Battle of the Brains. At the time everybody was into Battle of the Brains (Saturday, 1pm at RPN-9), basically because there was nothing else to watch or entertain ourselves with. The other option, really, was Video Hit Parade or something similar in ABC-5 showing the trailers of Dolores Claibourne and Batman:Mask of the Phantasm on loop. My partner was Toules, who was the Math wizard of the batch. I wasn’t really super excited to join, but at least we’d get to leave the province to tape our episode in faraway Quezon City, I told myself. “No, no, no, they would tape your episode in Uniwide Sta. Rosa,” we were later told by our adviser.

Toules and I went inside the taping booth and ooh-ed and aah-ed at the lights and the set-up. There was a dining table in a corner with stacks and stacks of encyclopedia, the staff cramming the questions. “Ang galing, noh,” I distinctly remember our physics coach Mr. Cruz say. “Ang gwapo ni David Celdran!” Toules whispered. While everyone was still preparing David went to the podium, gargled some water from a bottle for a few seconds, and swallowed the gargled water.

Easy round commenced and our opponents James and Joahnna were already wiping the floor with us. Before the round ended I was able to answer a question about the history of Ethiopia… from pure testmanship. It was a long question that indirectly just asked what the capital city of Ethiopia is. For some reason capital cities are favorite recall questions in 90’s quiz bees, along with the types of phobias (triskaidekaphobia in particular was a quizmaster’s darling). Toules took care of the Math questions.

We were starting to get our footing, but James and Joahnna quickly pulled so far away that Toules and I could only hang our heads in shame. The final nail on the coffin was when David Celdran asked the question “Who was the squire of Don Quixote dela Mancha?” To which I immediately buzzed and desperately screamed with no poise at all, “SANCHO!” Looking back, I was the original Alma Moreno yelling “PILLS!” at Karen Davila.

David looked at the cue card, and said I had to give the full name. I made a face palm and then sheepishly said, “SANCHO… DE GUZMAN?” I am just thankful that I did not say Sancho Gonzalez because it sounds suspiciously similar to the mouse Speedy Gonzalez which is more Battle of the Brainless than Sancho de Guzman. I think.

“Sino si Sancho de Guzman?” my father laughed as I sat dejected at the back of our Toyota Lite Ace on our way home. A few weeks later our episode aired, and my father recorded it in his Betamax. I’ve been looking for the tape and it is nowhere to be found, hopefully it is gone forever. Good thing memes wouldn’t be a thing until twenty years later, otherwise a nasty bully classmate would have made one of me facepalming and Speedy Gonzalezing my way through a fucking quiz show.

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